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Making the grade

Medford schools score well on state report card
Making the grade
Laura Lundy
Making the grade
Laura Lundy

Across the board, the Medford School facilities all met or exceeded expectations under the recently released school district state report cards.

At Monday’s school board meeting, curriculum director Laura Lundy reviewed the report cards focusing more on trends rather than the snapshots that each report card shows.

Lundy explained that the particular formulas for how different areas of the testing are weighted are different for each of the schools in the district.

“Every school has their own formula and it is based on different things,” she explained. The state tracks scores based on achievement, growth, target group outcomes and on-track to graduation. She noted that because Stetsonville is small in size the target group outcomes are excluded from their report card formula because the group size is too small.

In the grades themselves, there are five different levels schools can receive based on the aggregate scores. The midpoint is “meets expectations” and is where the district wants all schools to be at least.

See MEDFORD on page 4 In addition to each school building getting a grade, the district as a whole also receives a grade. The overall score for Medford Area Public Schools is 68.7 which puts the district in the meets expectations range. Districtwide, 17.5% of students have disabilities, 42% are economically disadvantaged, and 2.2% are identified as being English learners.

As a whole the district tracks above the state average in achievement in both English Language Arts and Mathematics. For growth, the district is slightly behind the state average for growth in English Language Arts, but ahead of the state average for growth in mathematics. The district’s graduation rate of 93.7% is above the state average of 91.8% and the district is well above the state scores on chronic absenteeism.

A school by school breakdown is as follows: Medford Area Elementary School had a score of 84.9 which puts it in the highest grade bracket of significantly exceeds expectations. The school exceeded the state average in both English Language Arts and mathematics and greatly exceeded the state averages for growth in those areas. With the exception of third grade English Language Arts, MAES was above the state average on the ontrack to graduation ratings.

Stetsonville Elementary School had a score of 80.7 which puts it in the second highest grade bracket of exceeds expectations. SES did well in achievement with scores ahead of the state average in English Language Arts and greatly above the state average in mathematics. In the growth rating, SES was at the state average for English Language Arts and was significantly higher on mathematics. In the on-track to graduation, SES was above state averages in all areas.

Medford Area Middle School had a score of 65.6 which puts it in the meets expectations grade bracket. On achievement, MAMS exceeded the state average on mathematics but was slightly below the state average in English Language Arts. That trend carried over into the growth rating with the school ahead of the state on mathematics but slightly below the state average on English Language Arts. MAMS was ahead of the state average for the on-track to graduation ratings. In the target group outcomes, achievement score was a 19.8 out of 100 which brought that score area down.

Medford Area Senior High School had a score of 65.9 which puts it in the meets expectations bracket. MASH exceeded the state average for mathematics, but was slightly below the state average when it came to achievement for English Language Arts. This carried over into the growth rating with mathematics being strong and above state averages while English Language Arts trailed the state average. Achievement rates for target group outcomes was particularly low with a score of 16.7 out of 100 possible points. MASH exceeded state averages in the on-track to graduation rating.

Rural Virtual Academy had a score of 69.8 which puts it in the meets expectations grade bracket. Achievement was strong with RVA students exceeding the state averages. In growth, the RVA lagged behind the state average for both mathematics and English Language Arts. The RVA scored well on the on-track to graduation area, exceeding the state averages on all measures. In target group outcomes, achievement with a score of 24.9 out of 100 brought that area down.

In her review of the test scores, Lundy focused more on the scores as part of the overall trend in student learning rather than on being a particular snapshot. For example the district has seen steady increases in the 4th grade English Language Arts scores going from 33% profi cient in 2020-2021 school year to 52% being proficient in 2022-2023. Likewise in mathematics, 50% of students in 4th grade were rated as proficient in 2020-2021 compared to 64% of students in 2022-2023.

At the 8th grade level, there was a major reversal with the district stopping a downward trend of 35% proficient in 2020-2021, 33% proficient in 2021-2022 to having 40% proficient in 2022-2023. The state average is 32% proficiency.

At the 11th grade level, using the ACT test, the district was below the state average of 39% proficiency for English Language Arts scores with 23% proficient in 2022--2023, down from 29% proficient in 2021-2022, but up from 19% proficient in 2020-2021. Reading proficiencies were down slightly from 34% proficient in 2021-2022 to 33% in 2022-2023. Math proficiencies were also down slightly from 56% in 2021-2022 to 55% in 2022-2023.

Lundy explained that this data, as well as other measures are used to develop the staff’s 5 year strategic goals.

“Our goal is to have 100% be proficient. This is our goal for each one of the schools,” she said, noting that they want to continually move forward.

Board member Steve Deml questioned setting 100% as the goal. “Doesn’t that seem unrealistic?” he asked, noting that goals typically should be achievable.

“It is a goal,” Lundy said, agreeing that it would be a challenge to get everyone to 100%. However she said it is a realistic goal.

“We have to believe that all kids can learn,” she said. District administrator Pat Sullivan said there was a message being sent by having the goal so high. He explained that if they went out and said they were only going to be 80% proficient, there would be parents calling to make sure that their kids weren’t in the 20%. He said he has also heard complaints from staff with concerns that the district is setting them up to fail by having the goal set too high. However he said he didn’t know how the district could say anything less than having the goal set high.

Members of the bandshell committee met with Sue Ackerman (center) of AbbyBank for the presentation of a $5,500 donation from the bank to the project. The bandshell is nearing completion with work on the roofing and a rear door which will provide a backdrop for the stage area. The stage faces toward the hill above the parking lot in the city park. The Medford Kiwanis Club is organizing a music series featuring area performers to be in the park this summer. BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS